My carbon footprint was larger than I thought -- Here's what I did about it

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is no small task. Whether you’re acting individually or within a large organization or company, it’s important first to understand the amount and source of the emissions, and then to take steps to reduce them.

So my co-workers and I got started by holding an office challenge, using the newly updated online carbon calculator from our Make an Impact team to learn more about our carbon footprints and pledge to lower our personal impact on the planet.

I was surprised by the results. Although I regularly bike to work, use mass transit whenever possible, and take other steps at home and work to save energy, my individual footprint was 12,044 lbs. of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year – nearly 2,000 lbs. higher than my local average. The primary cause was my home’s electric heating system.

With the Make an Impact Carbon Calculator, I was able to chart a course to reduce my carbon footprint by taking a variety of steps: biking more, recycling whenever I can, unplugging appliances when not in use, and washing my clothes on the cold water cycle. Through these seemingly small steps, I determined that my pledge to save energy would not only avoid more than 4,476 lbs. of CO2 emissions annually, but also save me $752 over the course of the year!

For home renters like me, energy costs are often an afterthought since we have little control over improvements to our living space. Through Make an Impact’s Tips for the Energy Savvy Renter guide, I was able to provide my landlord with a set of recommendations for reducing her energy costs and reducing our household’s carbon footprint. The calculator predicted that simply by adjusting my thermostats while not at home (or by installing smart thermostats), we would save $166 and 1,863 lbs. of CO2 per year.

With the world already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent and extreme heat waves, droughts, wildfires and downpours, we need governments and businesses to take the threat seriously. As individuals, we cannot only urge action and hold leaders accountable, but also take steps ourselves to walk the talk. With tools like the Make an Impact Carbon Calculator, we can get started doing our part.

To learn more about how the make an impact carbon calculator can engage your employees, visit http://makeanimpact.c2es.org/about/newsroom/c2es-makes-it-easy-calculate-your-carbon-footprint